I use my treadmill to keep my cardio up, I figure if my horses have to be fit, I need to be fit as well, and I don’t want to be the one who is gasping for air, begging for a break in a lesson….I have my pride. And yet, I’m going to confess one of my stranger places to visualize riding.
Running, or rather skipping, on the treadmill. I use it to work on my own coordination, particularly for lead changes. Always during my “cool down”, and only 3-4 minutes, usually between 5.5-6.0 mph.
This started with just skipping, the thinking of the aid changes, and changing leads. Visualizing where my shoulders are aligned, hands, legs, where does the movement initiate?
Over the years, I’ve done things like holding my hands where they are just touching the treadmill handles, from the top, then the bottom. This challenges my core to not rely on my hands, but makes me carry them. I visualize changing my inside/outside rein aids with my fingers as I do each lead change. It is really easy to cheat by “hanging on the reins”, aka, the treadmill handles, when you get a bit fatigued.
I usually start with 7 or 8 “strides” on each lead, then I’ll progress to 4, 3, 2, and 1s. Those ones are surprisingly not as easy as you’d think, keeping all the aids coordinated, this isn’t just skipping, but mentally focusing on keeping all the aids upper and lower body smooth and coordinated. I now use my core to lift my new seatbone forward, instead of it coming from my lower leg, when I started, I would just skip, and it was more of a swinging motion, using momentum more than finesse or control.
Yesterday, I noticed that on my right lead, my upper body is more stable, on my left lead, my shoulders tended to have a slight gyration. So, something new to focus on while on the treadmill. Another small adjustment.
Does any of this help? Who knows? It sure doesn’t hurt and it makes me feel better about my practicing on just me, and leaving Bali out of the equation while I master some of the coordination. Then I can focus on her being straight and less on my own movement.